1.25.2010

Royal Society meet to discuss if extra-terrestrials are here on Earth

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/science/space/article7000795.ece
Royal Society meet to discuss if extra-terrestrials are here on Earth - www.timesonline.co.uk
Paul Davies, a physicist at Arizona State University, will suggest tomorrow that the search for extra-terrestrial life should be focused right under our noses. His audience will include representatives from Nasa, the European Space Agency and the UN Office for Outer Space Affairs, while Lord Rees, President of the Royal Society and Astronomer Royal, will also lead one of the sessions.
Addressing the meeting to mark the 50th anniversary of the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence (SETI) programme — a quest that has fallen far short of its objectives — Professor Davies will argue that demonstrating that life has appeared more than once on Earth would be the best evidence yet that it must exist elsewhere in the Universe.
[...]
According to Professor Davies, "weird" microbes that belong to a completely separate tree of life, dubbed the "shadow biosphere", could be present in isolated ecological niches in which ordinary life struggles to survive. Likely hiding places include deserts, scalding volcanic vents, the dry valleys of Antartica or salt-saturated lakes.
[...]
The conference will also address the social implications of the search for alien life. Albert Harrison, from the University of California, Davis, will discuss how human beings might respond to the discovery of extraterrestrial intelligence.
"It is easy to imagine scenarios resulting in widespread psychological disintegration and social chaos, but historical prototypes, reactions to false alarms and survey results, suggest that the predominant response to the discovery of a microwave transmission from light years away is likely to be equanimity, perhaps even delight."

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[References...]
- Is there anybody out there?
- The eerie silence: are we alone in the universe?

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